Adam Brody and Paul Scheer in THE LEAGUE - Season 5 - "The Bachelor Draft" | ©2013 FXX/Patrick McElhenney

Adam Brody and Paul Scheer in THE LEAGUE - Season 5 - "The Bachelor Draft" | ©2013 FXX/Patrick McElhenney

For its first four seasons, THE LEAGUE, the half-hour comedy created by Jackie and Jeff Schaffer, was a staple for FX Network. Now FX is moving THE LEAGUE to its new outlet FXX for the show’s fifth season, which debuted Wednesday September 4 at 10:30 PM, following fellow FX transfer IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, which is now on FXX Wednesdays at 10 PM.

Asked about the move, Paul Scheer, who plays THE LEAGUE’s much-bullied Andre, quips, “I was just happy that FXX isn’t a p**n channel. For a little bit, I was confused we’d be there.”

Scheer, a native New Yorker, has done a lot of comedy TV since his 1998-2000 gig as part of UPRIGHT CITIZENS BRIGADE. Right now, in addition to THE LEAGUE, he is the creator and star of NTSF:SD:SUV on Comedy Central’s Adult Swim, he stars in THE ARSCHEERIO HALL SHOW and he’s part of the Web series dating show parody BURNING LOVE. On the feature side, Scheer has been in MEET DAVE, RAPTURE-PALOOZA and the two 3D PIRANHA films. At the Television Critics Association press tour, he discusses most of the above.

ASSIGNMENT X: How would you describe THE LEAGUE’s Andre?

PAUL SCHEER: Andre is kind of the punching bag of the group, the nerd of the group who they always pick on. Now he’s very rich and successful, but that has not changed anything. He’s still picked on. Even though he has the most success, the best house, the best car, the best everything, he still can’t outlive his high school personality. I think he’s just the guy who tries too hard. The first and second season, I wear the most ridiculous outfits, I dress like a bad version of an extra in THIS IS IT – Justin Timberlake hats, so I think he’s picked on because of that. I’m trying to fit in and be cooler than I actually am. [In Season 1], I actually won the fantasy league. [In Season 2], I’m coming in a winner for the first time. But they won’t even give me that respect, that I won.

AX: How much is Andre changing as THE LEAGUE continues?

SCHEER: I think as in all good sitcoms, he’s essentially himself as the show continues to go on. [In Season 3, he was] a little more tortured, because I came in last place [at the end of Season 2], so they were abusing me and giving me all these punishments for being in last place.

AX: Does it ever occur to Andre to maybe tell them all to go screw themselves and join a different league?

SCHEER: You know, he did join a different league in one of the seasons. The truth is, he likes these guys. Everybody has friends that are like this, that are like, “Oh, they treat me bad,” but they kind of like him and he loves them. It’s sort of like liking being kicked and punched.

AX: So he’s slightly masochistic …

SCHEER: Yeah, I think so.

AX: This season, Andre is marrying Trixie, played by Jayma Mays. How do you feel about his hookup?

SCHEER: Yeah, I liked it. It was fun – just a fun, different thing to try with the character, because you’ve seen him single for such a long time, so it was really fun to just have more things to play. I have an ally now in my fiancée.

AX: Is THE LEAGUE largely improvisational?

SCHEER: Yeah. The show is semi-scripted, so we have this ten-page outline and we know what we’re going to do in every scene. And then we go in with our own dialogue, there are lines that Jeff and Jackie have ideas [about]. So we get to bring our own things to it, but it is very collaborative and I come from an improv background, so this is a dream job.

Now I think we all know each other’s grooves, and we play into them. And Jeff and Jackie are really adept at taking things that are improvised on set and then blowing them out into a better thing into a later episode. Just last year, we were joking that I had a blog about magic and Don Henley, then that was able to be seen a couple episodes later where we say my “Witchy Woman” website.

AX: THE LEAGUE revolves around fantasy football. What do you think having it be football as opposed to, say, baseball or basketball does for the show?

SCHEER: I think that football is the one that the most people are into, because there’s a short term to it – it’s only like eighteen weeks. Baseball’s an everyday thing. Football’s a once-a-week thing, and basketball, same thing, so it’s a lot more taxing. I think it also works for the good in the grand scheme of a television show season, to have eighteen weeks where you can see the whole season, whereas baseball seems exhausting.

AX: There’s a Web series called THE GUILD, which is about a group of people who play WORLD OF WARCRAFT together. Are you familiar with THE GUILD?

SCHEER: Yes, very much. I know [GUILD creator/star] Felicia Day and a few people on that show.

AX: Do you see similarities between THE LEAGUE and THE GUILD?

SCHEER: Oh, yeah, totally. It’s an online bonding place. It’s like a virtual hangout.

AX: Do you think there is a greater or lesser geekiness in fantasy sports players or fantasy game players?

SCHEER: I think there is an idea that WARCRAFT, oh, that’s really nerdy. But fantasy football is just Dungeons & Dragons. It’s the same idea. You’re just looking at the power that your guys have and what you think they’re going to do. So I don’t think there’s a geekiness to them. Maybe one person does cosplay and one person dresses up as a sports person. That’s the difference.

AX: You were in both of the recent PIRANHA films, PIRANHA 3D and PIRANHA 3DD. Do you have stories from those films?

SCHEER: PIRANHA takes place during spring break. Jerry O’Connell plays a Joe Francis-like guy, part of this group called WILD WILD GIRLS, and I’m his cameraman. [PIRANHA 3D] was shot actually in 2D, but with 3D tech. Because 3D cameras are not good underwater in bright light, so we had people who were on set, literally going, “Okay, you can’t stand there, we can’t make that 3D.” Every time we would shoot a scene, they would shoot a plate of the scene. We would walk out of there and they would shoot a plate. So the transfer looks really good.

AX: Did you work with rubber fish?

SCHEER: Yeah. We shot with a lot of CGI fish, and for the reshoots they used these badass piranha puppets that look insane. They look badass and violent and awesome.

AX: Did you have to do anything different as an actor to accommodate the 3D?

SCHEER: I did a lot of reaching out at the camera. There was nothing really different to do. These techs on set were very careful about what could be shot the right way, so we just did it normally. Although I did a scene where I got to throw a fish at the camera, which was amazing. If I didn’t hit the camera, it would be great.

AX: Did you throw overhand or underhand?

SCHEER: Oh, overhand. I was being attacked. It was violent. I had to get it out of there. That one actually was a plastic fish. We did most of it with CGI. I did two takes with the plastic one, and then all just pretend fish. We [did] a scene where five hundred people get killed. We used more blood in this movie than KILL BILL. We used seven hundred gallons of blood in this one scene where five hundred people die. We were shooting in Lake Havasu. It’s kind of like that main death scene was like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, with fish. [PIRANHA 3D director] Alex Aja is awesome. He comes at it very much from an emotional ethic. [French accent] “You’re scared. You’re frightened.” So it’s very much a visceral thing, and he kind of let us go and do whatever we wanted.

AX: Did Lake Havasu have any qualms about the impact of all the fake blood on the environment?

SCHEER: I think that Lake Havasu was just excited that people were there. Lake Havasu is a party town. They were just happy for us to be there. They literally have boats with stripper poles attached to them. It’s an interesting town.

PIRANHA 3DD, we shot that down in Wilmington,North Carolina, which was a lot of fun. Me and Ving Rhames come back. [Scheer’s and Rhames’ characters] are now, oddly, friends in this movie. Ving Rhames is alive, which is a question mark [as his character seemed pretty dead by the end of the first film]. I never died on camera, so I’m alive as well. Ving Rhames and I go to a water park to get Ving back into going into the water, and unfortunately, it’s the same day that piranhas attack the water park.

AX: Was the DD 3D process any different than regular 3D?

SCHEER: Well, the truth is, this movie is shot in 3D. The first movie was not – I mean, we shot [it] to be converted into 3D. That was always the plan from Day One. This is actually shot in 3D. There are some practical fishes in this, as well as CGI fish, so a little bit of both.

AX: Did you have to do anything different as an actor, working with the 3D?

SCHEER: No, not at all. They’re just bigger camera rigs, one camera coming from the bottom and one camera coming from the top and another camera coming at you. So you have to maneuver around them in a careful way.

AX: Had any of the PIRANHA people seen THE LEAGUE?

SCHEER: I already had done [the first] PIRANHA by the time I started doing this show. So I think now people are fans of the show and surprisingly, you get people from all over who are like, “I love that show.” So it’s really nice, especially in the comedy community, to have a response from people like Danny McBride or David Gordon Green, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, they watch the show.

People know about THE LEAGUE. It’s growing and growing. It’s kind of now to a point where I can’t go anywhere without people recognizing me from the show.

AX: Do you have any other projects going on that we should know about?

SCHEER: The third season of my show on Adult Swim just started, called NTSFSD: SUV, and that’s on every Thursday night at 12:15, and I just started doing this thing called THE ARSCHEERIO PAUL SHOW, where I recreate classic Arsenio Hall interviews verbatim with people like Max Greenfield, Alison Brie, Seth Rogen, Jordan Peele, Will Arnett, a whole bunch of people like that. I am playing Arsenio Hall, and everyone else is playing the guests.

AX: And are you the show runner on NTSF:SD:SUV?

SCHEER: Yes. I am the show runner, I am the star of it.

AX: What is NTSF:SD:SUV?

SCHEER: NTSF:SD: SUV is a parody of all these dumb cop shows, like NCIS: LOS ANGELES or CSI: NEW YORK. It’s [an acronym for] National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle. Our ratings on Adult Swim have been insane. We actually have better ratings than NBC primetime, which is nuts. We actually have a great cast. We have Karen Gillan from DOCTOR WHO is in our show, this season we’ve got people like Summer Glau, Rob Riggle – who’s actually on the show all the time – Kate Mulgrew from ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, she’s in the show. We have an awesome, awesome cast. We’ve done some pretty intense stuff, like Jeff Goldblum came on the show and we had to chop off his arm and we chopped off John Cho’s thumb and so we’ve had a lot of bloody [scenes] on that. We’ve learned a lot from Sylvester Stallone and now we have CGI blood. CGI blood has been a really beneficial thing. You can make it go wherever you want it to go.

AX: And with CGI blood, you don’t have to clean the costumes between takes.

SCHEER: Exactly.

AX: How do you schedule doing everything?

SCHEER: [A season of THE LEAGUE] only takes fifty-two days, and [NTSF:SD: SUV] – we shot twelve episodes in twenty-four days. So it’s an interesting balance to go back and forth between them, but you can make it work.

AX: Anything else you’d like to say about THE LEAGUE?

SCHEER: I think if you liked [it before], you’ll love it, and I think if you haven’t watched it yet, you should get a chance to check it out this season.

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:Exclusive Interview with Paul Scheer on Season 5 of THE LEAGUE

 

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